Wednesday, January 11, 2006

There is something all can give...

Susan over at Strange Pulse wrote about doing service projects, which got s'mee thinking this morning.

Wow. When the kids were very little we found little ways for them to serve. We tried to teach them that there were even secret ways to serve, and the reward was similar to what Santa Claus feels when he drops off toys without expecting any himself. It worked. They also found that there were ways to contribute that people would be aware of their efforts and that feeling was also good.

Thor was a great teacher when it came to service. He would counsel the kids that if service was given with a frown or heavy sighs throughout -it didn't count as service but as an additional burden towards whomever was on the receiving end. Teaching that being served is at times very difficult for some independent souls to bare. So when you serve it should always be with a happy face and some singing (made up songs optional). Nothing incurred wrath more strongly than if you worked with Thor and made a big deal about it.

As the kids grew up the duty to serve others also grew. There were ample opportunities and sometimes the choices for service, whether community or otherwise, were overwhelming. Sometimes it would be easy. Collect unused books for the boys' home in town. Pack last year's back pack with grooming items and a sweat suit, a blanket, sox and a pair of shoes for the shelter. Clear out the old toys for to make room for new ones by donating them to the D.I..

When the choices became too varied we would have to work our way backwards. If #1 was into the outdoors, then we took that talent or interest and tried to find way that he could serve outdoors. Helping someone landscape, building a community park, cleaning the highway, being the moving guy, etc. #2 was into sports so he could volunteer at the community center, show little kids how to obtain a certain skill, painting and detail work was also a good service for him,#3 was patient and understanding so serving in medical facilities and shelters was perfect for her. #4 was nicknamed "Superman" very early on because he wanted to save someone every day. While still a cub scout he took to heart the pledge to do a good turn daily and made it a goal to never let a day go by without helping someone. He would come home with stories of this guy or that gal who needed some physical help or car fixing. He managed to be home late most every day and to most of his dates. His wife says he still (on occasion) shows up to church 20 minutes late with greasy fingers from changing a tire or fixing a belt. #5 worked performing for the elderly on a regular basis and also within the shelters.

Some charities require volunteers to have specific training, tools, skills, and committed schedules of service. Some require spur of the moment commitments while others allow you to drop in. Some invite you to serve from your home, but using your personal equipment, computers, phone and utilities, etc. Some just want your money, others want the use of your vehicle, others want your confidentiality and a contract before you can volunteer. There are age limits, gender limits and with some, a background search with fingerprinting, vaccinations, waivers, etc.

The key to voluntarism is that we understand our limits. It is hard to commit to a time schedule when it is something we dislike or can't handle. Emotions can run deep in some circumstances and trigger past hurts or joys which should be considered. If we have been in a specific situation (past or present) it can both help and hinder our effectiveness within a given organization. If we find that we have chosen the wrong place, explain it as soon as possible to the supervisor and find another place/area to serve.

The main thing is to have fun and like Thor recommends serve with that happy face and a song.

add to sk*rt

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